Photo: Lee Harrington
Respect the ocean; she is always teaching you something. This is one of the few, if not the only, guarantees out here. I woke up well before sunrise this morning so that I could selfishly have a moment alone with the sea. If not just to say thank you but soak in the gratitude for what has surrounded us over the course of the last month. The emotional shift in the waves and weather are reflective of the human experience. The ocean teaches you to appreciate the moment fully-moments are fleeting-they come and go. What remains is the feeling that there is so much left to learn about our world, ourselves and each other.
This poem by one the scientists onboard, Nicholas Huynh, sums this up perfectly.
Shifting Seas, Shifting Science
The ocean is wildly emotional,
often shifting within short periods of time.
Those emotions easily permeate into the psyche,
but they come and go.
A cloudless afternoon with gentle seas brings a soothing warmth,
an invitation for an embrace.
But the next morning brings howling winds that bites at my bones.
Following is a sea foaming at its waves, angrily lashing out,
driving me to seek some semblance of safety inside the ship.
In that moment, I realize that what appears to be a large steel vessel
is actually a small thimble in a vast desert expanse.
I, those around me, and those at the helm,
are all subject to the passing moods of the ocean.
All that we can do is roll with it.
This can be challenging when the ground moves beneath us,
constantly nudging us off balance,
changing the trajectory of where we were planning on going,
on what we had planned on doing.
Now hear this.
Wise not to become too attached to plans when voyaging the high seas.
When storms brew confused currents,
best to change course before getting caught.
Though forced to retreat to waters once visited,
this tack from intention may seem less than ideal,
but new opportunities are presented.
Signatures of change can be diagnosed:
some things grew better,
some things survived,
some things were eaten.
things were infected,
some things escaped detection.
We'll uncover who, how, and why.
The ocean is immense.
What's happening here might be similar to what's happening there,
or maybe what will take place later,
or maybe what has already taken place.
It's hard to really know.
To piece the puzzle,
we collect hundreds of liters of water,
filter it, fix it, freeze it,
Again, again, and again.
This is the tedious effort that drives great strokes of progress,
as long as the ocean allows.
No matter how the ocean feels,
It's always humbling
to see it,
to be in and on it,
to explore it,
to wonder about it.
To pay heed to its emotions is to respect it.
Only then do opportunities arise to learn from it.